- To the Editor of The Transatlantic Review
- The Johns Hopkins University Press and Faber & Faber Ltd
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500 ] To the Editor of The Transatlantic Review1 The Transatlantic Review, 1 (Jan 1924) 95-96 Dear Ford, I welcome with extreme curiosity the appearance of the Transatlantic Review. If it is similar to the Criterion I shall take it as the best possible testimonyoftheblessingsofthegodsonourenterprises :insofarasitbedifferent I hope that the differences will be complementary or at least antagonistic. But from the prospectus which you have sent me I take no prescience of antagonism. Personally, I have always maintained what appears to be one of your capital tenets: that the standards of literature should be international . And personally, I am, as you know, an old-fashioned Tory.2 We are so far in accord. The present age, a singularly stupid one, is the age of a mistaken nationalism and of an equally mistaken and artificial internationalism. I am all for empires, especially the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and I deplore the outburst of artificial nationalities, constituted like artificial genealogies for millionaires, all over the world. The number of languages worth writing in is very small, and it seems to me a waste of time to attempt to enlarge it. On the other hand, if anyone has a genuine nationality – and a genuine nationality depends upon the existence of a genuine literature, and you cannot have anationalityworth speakingofunlessyou haveanationalliterature– if anyone has a genuine nationality, let him assert it, let the Frenchman be as French, the Englishman as English, the German as German, as he can be; but let him be French or English or German in such a way that his national character will complement, not contradict, the other nationalities. Let us not have an indiscriminate mongrel mixture of socialist internationals, or of capitalist cosmopolitans, but a harmony of different functions. But the more contact, the more free exchange, there can be between the small number of intelligent people of every race or nation, the more likelihood of general contribution to what we call Literature. I agree also that there can only be one English literature; that there cannot be British literature, or American literature.3 You say that you wish to provide another vehicle for the younger writers. I object that this is an unnecessary discrimination in favour of youth. In [ 501 To the Editor of The Transatlantic Review America there seem to be a considerable number of periodicals, appearing more or less periodically, for this same purpose: and in England there do not seem to be any younger writers anyway. That is one advantage in living in England: one remains perpetually a very young writer. I have enquired after younger writers; but those who are young in years seem anxious to pretend that they are round about forty, and try as hard as possible to assimilate themselves to the generation which has just gone out of date. They have no politics, or liberal politics, (which is much the same thing); and if they had any politics, they would mix them up with their literature instead of keeping their literature clean. They have nothing. It is your business to help create the younger generation, as much as to encourage it. It does not need much encouragement. But a review is not measured by the number of stars and scoops that it gets. Good literature is produced by a few queer people in odd corners; the use of a review is not to force talent, but to create a favourable atmosphere. And you will serve this purpose if you publish, as I hope you will find and publish, work of writers of whatever age who are too good and too independent to have found other publishers. I know that there are good writers, young and old, who belong in this category. In the Criterion we have endeavoured not to discriminate in favour of either youth or age, but to find good work which either could not appear elsewhere at all, or would not appear elsewhere to such advantage. But I have only one request to make: give us either what we can support , or what is worth our trouble to attack. There is little of either in existence. Sincerely yours, 17 Thavies Inn, London T. S. Eliot Notes 1. As printed in the first issue of the short-lived but influential Transatlantic Review (JanDec 1924), founded in Paris by novelist and founder of The English Review, Ford Maddox Ford, whom TSE met in 1921. Ezra Pound, who was influential in starting the Transatlantic Review, later claimed that it was deeply opposed to...